It has recently come to light that the University of Cambridge discriminated against students of white working-class backgrounds by excluding them at an earlier stage from a post-graduate program that was intended to expand educational chances for members of underrepresented groups.
The program provided students with free housing on campus for a period of six weeks, a stipend equivalent to that of an intern for 35 hours per week, and training in research skills, which culminated in the writing of a 4,000-word essay. The goal of the program was to assist students in gaining the self-assurance and skills necessary to apply for postgraduate study and research careers.
Students from Black, British Black, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or British-Pakistani and British Bangladeshi backgrounds, currently enrolled at research-intensive universities, and intending to continue their education in 2024 were intended to be the only ones eligible to participate in the program when it was first proposed by the university. On the other hand, when the proposal became public knowledge, it aroused questions regarding the diversity objectives of the institution.
The action was interpreted as having a discriminatory attitude toward the white working class, which has a much lower student population at the prestigious university. The institution subsequently changed its mind after being contacted by the press and decided to open up the program to a more diverse group of people based on their socioeconomic status. This new group would include students from white working-class families.
The institution has been accused of harboring left-wing prejudices, which has led to criticism of the attempt to exclude students from white working-class backgrounds. David Abulafia, a professor at Gonville and Caius College, expressed his skepticism over the choice that was made initially by claiming that "It appeared as though the racial criterion was based on the assumption that pupils of color are inherently at a disadvantage. Isn't there a trace of racism in there somewhere? ".
Dr. James Orr, a lecturer in divinity at Cambridge, praised the university for recalibrating the program's criteria to be based on disadvantage rather than race. He went on to say that "this kind of opportunity should surely be available to everyone on the basis of merit and need, not ethnic background." Teachers at the institution were informed, as stated in an article published by The Telegraph, that the program was conceived with the intention of extending chances to students who come from underrepresented groups.
In conclusion, it is essential for educational institutions to make certain that the programs they devise with the intention of enhancing diversity and inclusion do not target any one group in a biased or unfair manner. Universities have the ability to promote equitable opportunities for all people, regardless of race or socioeconomic background, if they make programs of this kind available to everyone on the basis of merit and need.
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